Shoshana Bean

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Shoshana Bean

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, August 30, 2019

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Shoshana Bean

Shoshana Bean waited a long time to make her debut at Feinstein’s/54 Below, and when she finally did, her performances demanded the attention of every self-respecting theatergoer in the greater New York area. For those who were there and those that weren’t the question is: when is she be performing next? She’s in the upper-class of musical theater, and her ability to blend styles, use her range, and deliver the feeling of a song is nearly unparalleled.

Few performers have the ability to garner such raucous applause. Fewer still can send chills down a listener’s spine from the very first song. Perhaps alone in this regard, she had brought many in the audience to tears when she ultimately brought the curtain down.

Her first song, “It All Fades Away” (Jason Robert Brown) was dreamy and imaginative and captured us in her intimate net. We were there to share this special moment as Bean showed appreciation for the theater music that’s made up a substantial portion of her career. The lyrics, “I have sailed across the oceans, past the cities and the farms, on a never-ending quest for something new,” was especially magical when combined with her expressive eyes, dynamic stage presence, and fluid, moving vocals. Another magical moment came when she brought us back to the 1980s and her first show, Sunday in the Park with George. Not having performed anything from that show before, she took a different angle and played the part of George, singing “Finishing the Hat” (Stephen Sondheim). Bean, in expressing the deepest emotions of the music, showing ambition with sacrifice and dejection, was truly phenomenal.
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Ultimately, on the final line, “Look I made a hat…where there never was a hat,” some audience members couldn’t fight back tears.

By describing only two songs from Bean’s show, I feel that I’ve captured much of what one can appreciate when serenaded by this true star of contemporary theater. In addition to these heavy, powerful, and emotionally moving moments, she also included a classic performance of her “roles I’ll never play medley,” which included material from Ragtime, Aida, Rent, and Porgy and Bess, to name a few. The performance of “Bess, You Is My Woman Now” (Dorothy and Du Bose Heyward, George and Ira Gershwin) gave her the opportunity to showcase her operatic chops. As her soprano soared, so too did our awe. Bean’s showed her light-hearted side is her audience-request section.

Picking songs from a basket, she went through a handful of random numbers, ultimately ending the sequence with a memorable performance of “Stars and the Moon” (Jason Robert Brown).
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She was supported on stage by music director/pianist James Sampliner, along with a trio of other talented musicians.

Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see